Despite advances in technology and improved aircraft reliability, crew decision-making still remains the most crucial factor in aviation safety. For that reason, the quality of pilot training is a critical factor in accident prevention. Through improved technological advancements, simulation training has become closer to real life than ever before; hence simulator training can be exploited more efficiently in helicopter pilot training.
According to Moorthy et al.,* simulator training is a training method that seeks to train learners through replicating real-life situations. The advantages of using simulators in training helicopter pilots are more than evident.
- Simulation allows trainees to purposely undertake high-risk activities and procedural tasks within a safe environment without dangerous implications.
- Simulation can improve trainees’ skills and allow them to learn from errors.
- Learners can gain a greater understanding of the consequences of their actions and the need to reduce errors.
- Simulation offers trainee participation. Rather than sitting through a training lecture, trainees can practice what they have learned, and quickly learn from any mistakes without serious implications.
- Learners address hands-on and thinking skills, including knowledge-in-action, procedures, decision-making, and effective communication.
- Simulated learning can be set up at appropriate times and locations, and repeated as often as necessary.
- Simulation learning can be customized to suit beginners, intermediates, and experts to hone their skills.
- Feedback can be given to learners immediately and allow them to understand exactly what went wrong and how they can improve.
- Learners don’t have to wait for a real situation to come up to learn.
Besides the advantages of the safety management side, training in the simulator also means lower costs. The hourly rate for training in a real helicopter can hardly be compared to that in a simulator. Besides, the aircraft will not be tied up for training flights but can be used for revenue-generating operations, a factor that is missed out in many calculations. Besides reducing costs and limiting the environmental impact, flight crews can be trained in real procedures to handle situations which cannot be easily replicated safely in a real aircraft. Consequently, the safety and economic benefits of simulator training should make it an essential part of any pilot’s training routines.
Reliability, training efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and outstanding service are the key factors for an air operator when selecting a flight training service provider. Pilot training is an investment that should bring returns through improved safety performance and efficiency while distracting from day-to-day business as little as possible. A well-organized and compact training center allows pilots and their instructors to focus on training entirely.
The writer is Coptersafety’s Quality and Safety Manager, with close to 20 years of experience in the aviation industry
*Ref. Moorthy, K, Vincent, C., & Darzi, A. (2005). Simulation-Based Training. British Medical Journal.